What Do You Say, Tommy?

Call us self-indulgent but we think teenagers should be grateful to their parents from whom their blessings flow — and they should express that gratitude by their words and actions.

When we were young, what was one of the first things our parents taught us? Whenever Aunt Audrey gave us soap on a rope, or the guy at the store slipped us one of those tiny candy bars, or someone at church ruffled our hair and told us how nice we looked in our gray suit, Mother would lean over, tilt her head slightly, and gently but firmly offer, “What do you say?” And on cue we muttered a squeaky thank-you. It was what you did. It was appropriate, proper, even expected.

The Teen-age Exemption

So now Tommy is a teenager and doesn’t need to say thank you. And why is that? Well, because parents are doing for their kids what parents are supposed to do. Doing, giving, sacrificing are part of the parental job description. We do, give and sacrifice out of love.

So what happened to, “And, sweetie, what do you say in return?” When did offspring earn an entitlement that exempted them from having to say thank-you … out loud … with joy in the heart?

We know how this is going to sound so there’s no use in sugar-coating it. Yes, mom and dad do and give and sacrifice out of love for their kids. Likewise, we believe their kids, most certainly their teenagers, should do and give and sacrifice out of gratitude.

What’s the Big Deal?

If only that tall, strapping son of ours would dry the dishes in the rack from the meal he just wolfed down that staved off starvation. If only daughter would put the pens back in the phone drawer instead of carrying them off to her room, repeatedly. “I know there was a pen in this drawer. I’ve put a half dozen in here myself.”

If only son or daughter would notice the dog gyrating by the back door and take him outside to his favorite bush. We’re busy cleaning lettuce for the salad, watching the pork chops so they don’t burn on the grill, and setting the table. Daughter’s watching tv. When’s mom coming home?

The Way It Used to Be

We know, we’re asking for the moon. We’re probably pining for the way it used to be when we could simply lean over, tilt our head slightly, look our son or daughter in the eye and say earnestly … “What do you say, sweetie?” And the response was “thank-you,” a smile, a hug, or maybe all three.

By dads2dads